I have a confession to make: I’m a horrible client. There are times that I have not finished my antibiotic per my doc’s instructions. I’ve taken it until I felt better, then stopped. It’s like medical roulette, I know I’m taking chances, I totally know better, but I can’t help myself.
I’m sorry to say I’m guilty of having done the same thing with my dogs. Now granted, either through my stunning skill as a vet, or sheer dumb luck: I’ve been blessed with very healthy dogs. Katelin has had one ear infection in her life and was hospitalized once for surgery when she ate a rug (long story…), Scully is getting old and is developing age related stuff, and Mia is a lab and so far has lab issues.
I have the dogs on a handful of preventative maintenance items. I’m good at giving them their Fish Oil Capsules every night, all 3 dogs are on Dasuquin for their joints, and remember that one most nights. Mia is on a probiotic because of all the random junk she eats (point in fact she ate a whole tub of butter yesterday, and let me just tell you: you haven’t lived until you’ve gotten a whiff of butter scented dog vomit all over your kitchen, evasive maneuvers did seem to nip it before it emerged out the other end though). I’m fair with the heartworm preventative, Madeline usually reminds me to give it at the first of the month. I’m often a day or two (or three) late though. (In case you are wondering yet, I’m telling you all this stuff to let you know I’m not perfect at medicating my dogs, and I suspect you, the client aren’t either)
Scully is the old dog, who’s medical needs are escalating. I remember her joint medicine (Metacam, an NSAID for pain) most days, usually because she’s limping so I have a visible reminder to give it. I’m not good with Scully’s heart medicine, I think on some level I’m in denial that she’s got heart disease and giving her the meds will just make it all the more “real”, plus I feel like I’m giving her piles of meds (she also takes Tetracycline/Niacinamide for a toenail condition she has, but I have to give that three times a day, which is hopeless, not to mention I’m pretty sure it made her vomit all day a week ago so I haven’t given it to her since.) However, writing this makes me feel bad, so I’d better start giving the heart meds regularly. It’s just hard because she looks perfectly healthy on the outside. I can imagine how you guys may feel in this situation. I have read the clinical trials that document the positive effect of the medicine on heart disease, and I still hesitate to pile on the drugs. Again, I’m telling you this, because I have a feeling you guys feel the same, you just rarely tell me.
To top it off, Mia (the puppy) has an ear infection (again). The reason she has it (again) is that I didn’t treat it long enough the first time. I stopped the meds early, when she got better. I didn’t follow my own advice, and guess what: exactly what I tell my clients will happen, happened. The infection came back.
And let me tell you: Mia HATES having her ears messed with. Hates it. The husband has to hold her for me and she’s strong as an ox and flails around and cries and it’s just miserable for all. She actually ran away from me and hid under the table and wouldn’t come near me til all the ear paraphernalia was gone. She is a total food hound, but the advice I give about giving her a treat afterwards to make it all better: doesn’t work on her. It makes me very disinclined to continue treatment (I suspect you folks do too), but as we know, the infection won’t go away by magic (as much as I’d like it to).
So I’m telling you all this partially to convey that I feel your pain, and also to convey that when your pet comes in with that ear or skin infection still there, when you didn’t come in for your follow-up appointment; and you look up at me with those puppy dog eyes and insist you did all the meds religiously…a little part of me might not 100% believe you.
I know that there are people in the world who can precisely and meticulously follow all medical recommendations to a “T”. There are also those harried, busy, distracted ones who can barely remember what day of the week it is.
I guess I’d like us to find some common ground. Sometimes I know you didn’t give all the meds when you call me up because the dogs skin is infected again and you “still have some pills from last time”. (Hint, hint: if you gave the meds properly, you won’t have any pills left over, same goes for ear meds). We recommend follow-up visits to confirm that infections have cleared, often weaning off meds or prolonged courses are required to clear things up. I know all the ins and outs of medicating and treatment and even I have trouble with it. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell me what’s giving you trouble. Can’t pill the dog? There are companies that make medications into treats. Cat? (whole ‘nother can of worms, but liquid and transdermal formulations may be available). We even have an antibiotic injection that lasts for two weeks, thus negating the need to pill the pet altogether. It’s ok to tell me you have a crazy busy schedule and you’d rather eat glass than give meds three times a day. I might have to say you’re outta luck, that’s the only way it can be done, or I might be able to figure out another solution.
We’re supposed to be a team right? You, me and the pet…. Go team!